Social Sontract Theory of John Locke

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Social Sontract Theory of John Locke

This paper analyzes the social contract theory of John Locke and how his values are consistent with the criminal justice system and private security settings of today. It will further discuss whether or not Locke’s’ values and principles apply to both criminal justice and private security venues. I will also summarize the major differences of the social contract theories; identify the key principles associated with Locke’s social contract theory; identify how these principles are inculcated in the U. S.

Bill of Rights; identify how these principles play out in the criminal justice system and security settings of today and finally describe freedom in relationship to personal rights and ethical standards and obligations. “A social contract is a voluntary agreement in which mutual benefit occurs between and for individuals, groups, government or a community as a whole. According to Locke, the State of Nature, the natural condition of mankind, is a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct one’s life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others (Kelly, Martin.(2012)). ”

This does not mean, however, that it is a state of license: one is not free to do anything at all one please, or even anything that one judges to be in one’s interest. The State of Nature, although a state wherein there is no civil authority or government to punish people for transgressions against laws, is not a state without morality. The State of Nature is pre-political, but it is not pre-moral. “Persons are assumed to be equal to one another in such a state, and therefore equally capable of discovering and being bound by the Law of Nature.

Given the implications of the Law of Nature, there are limits as to how much property one can own: one is not allowed to take so more from nature than oneself can use, thereby leaving others without enough for themselves (Powell, Jim. (1996)). ” Because nature is given to all of mankind by God for its common subsistence, one cannot take more than his own fair share. Property is the linchpin of Locke’s argument for the social contract and civil government because it is the protection of their property, including their property in their own bodies, which men seek when they decide to abandon the State of Nature.

· Summarize the major differences of the social contract theories. The major differences between classical republicanism and John Locke’s natural rights are philosophy are that classical republicanism stresses the “common” good or community over the natural rights stress of the individual. You look at the natural rights philosophy from what Locke would describe as a “state of nature,” that is, an imaginary situation where there is no government. Lock believed that there was a law of nurture to govern a state of nature; he stated, “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it which obliges everyone…

No one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. ” “The main ideologies of the natural rights philosophy are found in the Declaration of Independence with such ideals as consent of the governed, right of revolution, unalienable rights (or rights that cannot be taken away or given up, such as life liberty and property), and overall establishes a social contract. Classical republicanism is modeled after the Roman Republic, where the government provides its citizens with liberty under government and stressed the common good, or what was best for the society as a whole (Powell, Jim.(1996)). ”

Citizens within a republic must share the same characteristics: civic virtue, moral education, and live in small, uniform communities. Civic virtue is demonstrated when a person sets aside their own personal interests to promote the common good, and thus classical republics often drastically limited individual rights. “Moral education is the idea that citizens must be taught to be virtuous based on civic religion; these virtues included generosity, courage, self-control, and fairness.

Small, uniform communities were necessary to prevent factions (self-interested groups of individuals), and to prevent this, limited the degree of diversity within these communities (Kelly, Martin. (2012)). ” People residing within these communities often had similar wealth, religious or moral beliefs, and ways of life. To further prevent diversity, each community has an established religion (which is prohibited in our Constitution per Amendment 1). What are the key principles associated with Locke’s social contract theory?

Locke believed there also exists a Law of Nature, the basis of all morality and given by God, that compels us to not harm others life, health, liberty or possessions. For Locke, the social contract exists when mankind in the State of Nature recognizes and heeds the Law of Nature thus forming a civil society. Protection of property, both geographic and one’s own body, were key to Locke’s argument. He said that political society and government are established by mutual consent forming “one body politic under one government” united into common-wealth to protect property from those who would violate the Law of Nature.

Locke’s argument for the right of the majority is the theoretical ground for the distinction between duty to society and duty to government, the distinction that permits an argument for resistance without anarchy. “When the designated government dissolves, men remain obligated to society acting through majority rule. It is entirely possible for the majority to confer the rule of the community on a king and his heirs, or a group of oligarchs or on a democratic assembly (Powell, Jim. (1996)). ” Thus, the social contract is not inextricably linked to democracy.

Still, a government of any kind must perform the legitimate function of a civil government How are these principle inculcated in the U. S. Bill of Rights? “John Locke influenced Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers while writing “the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, Locke’s Social Contract Theory on America’s political and governmental system is undeniable (Constitution Society). ” “While writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, drew heavily from the writings of John Locke, and placed them in the Constitution.

The social contract theory infuses both these documents (Constitution Society). ” Thomas Jefferson adopted Locke’s ideas people had rights to life, liberty, equality, and pursuit of happiness, the responsibility of government must protect those rights, and put them in the Constitution. · How do the principles play out in the criminal justice system and security settings? The theory does not have basis in today’s criminal justice system in that there are segments of society that believe that the law doesn’t apply to them nor does it protect them.

For example, the perception is that the amount of crime in the inner city is rampant. It is widely reported on the news every night. There are always stories on these neighborhoods if and only if it is sensational and /or involves a Caucasian citizen. This argument bears out when newspapers print banner headlines about Caucasian children being missing or kidnapped. Many of the ideas formed in Locke’s social contract theory mimic the modern criminal justice system. As citizens of a society, we give up many of our rights to protect ourselves in favor or a centralized system or rule governed by elected officials.

· Describe freedom in relationship to personal rights and ethical standards and obligations. “It’s believed that values are what we learn from childhood from parents and surrounding influences of adults involved in the child’s life. Morals are the beliefs developed from that value system and how one should behave in any given situation (Banks, C. (2009)). ” “Ethics on the other hand is how someone actually behaves in the situation that may test ones morals and values. Values are established by childhood upbringing and help mold them into citizens contributing to society.

Those environments include home, school, church, neighbors, cultural backgrounds and social get together or parties (Banks, C. (2009)). ” Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are established through the unconscious observations and experiences of childhood in those environments. John Locke is the creator of the concept of individual rights as the basic reason for government. The U. S. founders turned this into government for the people of the people and by the people. References: Banks, C. (2009). Criminal justice ethics: Theory and practice (2nd Ed.).

Los Angeles, CA: SAGE. Constitution Society. (2007). Retrieved on February 18th 2012 from http://constitution. org/soclcont. htm Kelly, Martin. (2012). Social Contract. Retrieved on February 19th 2012. From http://americanhistory. about. com/od/usconstitution/g/social_contract. htm Powell, Jim. (1996). John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. Retrieved on February 19th 2012. from http://www. thefreemanonline. org/featured/john-locke-natural-rights-to-life-liberty-and-property/ ———————– 1.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 16 November 2016

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